An emotional service was held on 30 April to honour the passing of beloved Townsville centenarian David Shannon.
Mr Shannon passed away peacefully on April 14. Friends and family – including soldiers who rescued him in the Townsville flood in 2019 – gathered in person and via live-stream to celebrate his life at his funeral.
The 100-year-old marked his 100th birthday on February 4 this year with a party at Ozcare’s Villa Vincent Aged Care Facility, where he had lived after the flood swept through his ground-floor unit at Rosslea on the evening of Sunday, February 3, 2019.
Tributes flowed during today’s service at Fitzgerald’s Funeral Home White Dove Chapel, where Mr Shannon’s long-time friend Richard Hosking told of the WW2 veteran’s contribution to the Townsville community.
He was remembered for his kindness and positivity by a tearful Leisa Harte, who shared her fond memories of playing with the wooden games he made at his home next door to her pop ‘Les’.
Captain Jack Cailes read aloud a letter to be delivered to his surviving family members from the 4th Regiment members and written by Lieutenant Colonel Pete Allan, Commanding Officer of 4th Regiment Royal Australian Artillery.
The letter from Lt Col Allen expressing how the lasting bond and friendship formed after the rescue will forever hold a place in their memories.
A livestream of the service was watched by relatives and friends in Canada and Ireland, where David was born in 1921.
Following service in the RAF in WW2, David became a teacher, moving to Australia from Ireland, and teaching throughout NSW and the ACT. His job took him to Indonesia.
However, Mr Hosking, who is writing a biography on his old friend, said David was best known in Townsville for the wooden games he created by hand in the 1970s.
The games were sent around Australia but also distributed among families in Townsville via the Townsville Central City Mission.
This was where the two met as members of the Uniting Church. David was a labourer in the Railway workshops during this time.
Mr Hosking spoke of the moment they met up after almost 40 years when David was brought to Villa Vincent to live.
He had commenced a monthly Uniting Church worship service at the aged care facility in late 2018 and was welcoming newcomers in April 2019 when he recognised him.
“Our relationship has deepened over the last couple of years as we have shared our lives, faith and prayed together,” Mr Hosking said.
Watching on from Dublin was Brian Wheatley, the son of David’s lifelong friend Christopher, whom he met in the R.A.F in 1941.
Uniting Church Pastor Lorne Anderson, who officiated at the service, told the gathering David knew how to love and love well and in many ways had a second chance after his rescue at the age of 98.
A video tribute, with the footage from TV news stories on David after his rescue and at the party to celebrate his milestone birthday earlier this year, were played.
Mr Hosking’s wife Karen also sang The Lord Is My Shepherd, accompanied by Rev. Bruch Cornish and Pastor Graham Huth.
Members of the Sisters of Mercy were also present along with Villa Vincent Facility Manager Peter Richardson and Ozcare volunteers, who met David during his time at Villa Vincent.
Following the funeral service, the veteran centenarian was laid to rest at Belgium Garden’s Cemetery along with a regimental flag and brass shell case embedded with the regimental insignia, given to him by his military friends at his 100th birthday celebration.